The Infinite Changes In Self

Change manifests at different times of your life as results of small to cataclysmic events. At least for myself the most intense, awe-inspiring developments have happened because of difficult, harsh, bold, extreme- mostly unhappy (felt at the time)- events. The last year has been a year of life taking violent turns through mostly uncharted waters that in moments left me feeling as boat drifting in dark seas without directions. I think the moments when you feel utterly and completely lost are those times when introspection runs rampant and can create beautiful new facets to the gems of our soul.

When we are children we are like an uncut diamond, rough and new to the light of the world. As we grow and experience each situation we find ourselves in that makes us see a part of ourselves that we didn’t see before and it adds a facet. The more cuts to our stone- the more facets- create a stone that shines like it never did before. If we are brave enough to see our souls and their worth we can feel a true sense of joy. This whole process of life can leave one jaded and in times feeling hopeless. If you have the courage to love yourself unconditionally and to not be apologetic about the life that has created you for the wonderful person you are, it can be a dawn awakening- and it is glorious.

Why write this into the universe? Because where ever you are whatever you find yourself in, feel it all. The joy, pain, love, lose-have the courage to let those emotions wash over you, don’t pack them away. I don’t really believe in good and bad decisions, even with the shit that happened in my life, I don’t believe that regret should follow you. Have faith in yourself and be brave enough to speak the truths on you mind, heart, and soul.

Let me say this again. Be brave and speak your truths. If we are honest with our hearts and minds some things will fall away but what remains will be true. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you shouldn’t speak these things.

“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul” -Edward Abbey

You will find yourself surrounded by people throughout your lives that are part of you story for second, minutes, days or maybe years. The ones that stay and show up in your life are the ones to keep close. Give those people your hearts, fears, and hopes and the right ones will make your heart fill with so much joy you will simply feel full. That void in ourselves that I think everyone feels in some way, that reservoir is for the joy we find in connection. I am lucky enough to have friends I have known for years, grew with, laughed with and definitely cried with. I can only hope that if you are reading this you hold those people close to you.

I could write a thousand times that you are in charge of this life, even if you are stuck at a corner right now, you can make a turn with enough will and sometimes time. Be good to yourself, love yourself and find community. Community is so important-something I learned only the last couple years. The spiderwebs we spin that connect us to all sort of people all over the world- they are a golden cord to life.

Be patient with yourself and also with others, when you find this light inside of you and you see how wonderful and bright it is, some people wont see it the same way. Let me tell you this if people don’t see you for the wonder that you are, let them pass by.

I am sending so much love and light to you all out there.

-Leah

PS Starting next month I will be talking about my experience with the Peace Corps which is…. difficult but I think it will be helpful.

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The Return to Montana

As I write this I am listening to “Pale September” by Fiona Apple, this mixed with other female vocalists have been the sounds of this summer. I think that is important because music often moves us and makes us feel differently, more or less. (I suggest listening to it now, maybe you’ll feel what I am feeling as I write this).

What is the purpose of writing all this down? I am sure of only one thing, its not only for the reader necessarily, but maybe just for me. Maybe the purpose is to spin yet another fine web and send it off into the universe. Perhaps this writing will reach someone who is not fitting in, not feeling beautiful, not feeling driven to find their own happiness, not speaking their truths to people who need to hear it or maybe to the folks that forget our lives are not infinite but need to be reminded its finite.

Last summer I spent the summer, my first as a fisheries intern, in an entirely different mood and spirit. The summer was excellent in many ways, however in the end I felt my world was closed, surrounded by those with full lives and full hearts. I was outside of that circle, or so I felt, because of my differences from those who dwell here in the mountains. The summer was full of beautiful experiences which all shaped my opinion of the area and created a well inside of me that previous had been absent. When I returned to Washington for my school year (knowing that I would be returning to Montana the next year) my life was dark for a time, I stayed close to the couch eating and watching Parks and Rec. I didn’t know the reason that I reacted this way at the time to the changes of coming home. I decided it must be how I was spending my time differently, in the summer I was outside Monday through Friday in what most people would call Gods country–or Bob Ross’s country in my opinion. The absence of the sunshine caused my well of self to dwindle greatly, as I am like a cold blooded creature, I require the sun. Regardless of the effects of leaving Montana, I grew out of my home period and move on still unknowing why the mountains refused to leave my heart. Fast forward to this summer (2017).

Arrival was different this time, this place was a known, I knew where to go and I had people in my life to spend time with. Immediately I feel myself reaching out and connecting in a way that I had not before, like spider webs my spirit reaches out until a thin invisible net has surrounded me. My opinion began to change immediately and suddenly I am beginning to see what could be a semblance of home or at least possibility. I have met individuals which broadened my scope even further and for reasons beyond my understanding released me from fears that have long since bore upon my shoulders. I am suddenly seeing so many things in an entirely different light and I am sure we could say this about all experiences, they change us in some way. The universe works in such amazing ways sometimes giving us what we need exactly when we need it, then taking it away and so on and so forth. I am solid in self and feel myself becoming a woman finally at almost 30, I feel beautiful, capable and I know that I will receive what I need. I was drawing some time back and found myself drawing this goddess like woman walking through the woods at night, moonlight pouring upon her shoulders as she walked carrying a lantern. Upon her head was a set of antlers and she carried a hunters knife. Later that night I found out that the full moon, that was to be that night, was called the “full buck” moon. I felt alive, connected and that night I danced under that moon feeling more whole than I have ever.

This area is so open and full of possibility, so many places one could live here their whole lives while never seeing everything. The mountains humble you and the peaks breathe life sealing up the cracks in your spirit. The wind even speaks to you as it passes through the trees, carrying that wonderful pine sap smell. Every day that I spend out here I feel that well I created last summer filling, while previously it laid empty. I used to think that I had a center of power which was fueled with; working out (feeling capable), solitude (mixed with some social interaction) and being outside in any manner. I find that my center has changed somewhat it is now being fueled with; the desire to be capable but more so self reliant, having alone time but also creating deep community connection, still being outside in any manner and now allowing myself to just be present–sit and be still.

I do not know what my future hold for me, I feel as though I am at a intersection and I am waiting for the breeze to send me in the right direction. This may sound like something that is negative but actually it is not, it is anything but. I feel free and something that has been mostly absent in my life–hope. I have always been a realist mixed with a little old fashion romantic and a touch of altruism. Hope flickered to light not long ago, was quickly snuffed out and now I feel the radiance of the warmth moving through the cockles of my heart and spirit. I will be okay, I will always be okay until the moment that I cease to be and even that will be alright.

“Love flowers best in openness and freedom”-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire 

I used to think that this referred to only romantic relationships but now I believe it means more than that, self love and love of the things you care about (not always people). Allowing yourself to be free but also open, allowing the good in with the bad and accepting that things will virtually always be out of your control. The best I can do now is to be honest, kind, open and hope that all the other shit falls away.

I am here to say that whoever you are out there, life is all around at us at all times and sometimes we all forget that simple fact. We are all broken, in a state of mending in some way at all times. Sometimes perspective is everything, one of my favorite songwriters wrote these lines

“Cant you see that a breeze is just a change of pace?” and “Stuck in the rain? Do a rain dance” 

Maybe you’ll see worth in those line. I wish so much hope, love and light to all of my people (and beyond) and to myself so that next time I feel spent and empty I can drink from this like a flask of hope.

Thank you if you made it to the end, much love-Leah

 

 

Thailand: For the seeker in all of us

Note: This is a more personal experience with my travel to Thailand. I did travel with a friend, as you will see in pictures, however, travel is personal and this is my experience in Thailand. Further down is the information that could be helpful for you if you are thinking of traveling to Thailand. 

The following is verbatum from my travel journal from the last days of the trip, please ignore grammar and spelling errors..

Birds chirped at my as I walked by a large red hibiscus tree. I walked on the quiet side road by the guest house that we were staying at, the golden wats on either side of our residence glinted in the morning sun. The sun had just woken up but already the heat was notable, by smiled inwardly as the rays basked on my shoulders and back, like a hug from a friend. Walking on the brick roadway, scooters and delivery trucks occasionally passed me moving fast to their destinations. On the roadways shops began to wake, the doors open with their owners sweeping the floors using palm fans or using hoses to clean off the store fronts, moving the leaves and garbage from the day before. There are smiles anywhere you look for them, each single person would offer the largest smile and a polite hello if you just offered the first smile. I now arrive at “The Bird’s Nest Cafe”, my destination, not far from our place and one of my favorite places to sit, think and drink coffee (French presses with clove and cinnamon need I say more). I order and find my seat in the top section, taking off my chacos and sitting. This city was the last we would visit and today was the last day of the trip, how did this happen? Where had the time gone? Was I that frivolous that I had given my minutes away as though they meant nothing?

“March 26th, 2017- Chiang Mai, Thailand

The point of my life is what? To see many things, impact greatly, or maybe to see as many places you want to before finding someplace you wish to stay perhaps and call home, if only for an evening. Sitting in a coffee shop Thailand I can  say that when you get out here you meet some amazing humans, all welcome and all seeking. I wish to have the ability to travel as they do, free and without strings. To take off like the bird I am, to see it all and land atop a tree now and again. I want to seek and find what it is my soul craves, of which I do not know; A person, place or purpose?

I feel at home here in Chiang Mai. The bustling city moves and sings together from the moment the sun rises to long after it has set. Everyone smiles and greets one another. A smile gets you a long way here, even if you don’t know what to say or how to say it. Pleasant demeanor gets you a long way.

I feel as though this place is a current and it has many people moving through it following their hearts to seek. Most don’t seek with the intention of finding a specific thing but just to be a part of the search for something greater than our knowns.  If you ask say “how long are you traveling or where” they will respond with not knowing but that they are experiencing some amazing places and people along the way.

This place makes my soul crave to be a part of that current, it pulls at me asking me to “come” and my worldly obligations this year stop me from obliging the current, however, I will work on it with every fiber of my being to make an extended trip a reality for next summer.

I want to seek, for I am a seeker”

Leah 

The beginning: Vancouver, BC to Bangkok, Thailand

This was a long trip but I highly recommend flying out of Vancouver international airport, it was so much more comfortable and cheaper than flying out of Seatac. We arrived into Bangkok around 1 am and after wandering around getting familiar with the airport (as we were to come back later that day to take a bus to Koh Chang) and getting money from the ATM, we were off to our short stay at a Bangkok hotel (5 hours to be exact) it was a pretty sweet little hotel (The Great Residence”), they had a fantastic breakfast and we even saw a monitor lizard while we were there! Later we returned to the airport and got on the bus to Koh Chang.

Getting from Bangkok to Koh Chang

There is a bus/van service which departs from door 8 on ground floor at Suvarnabhumi Airport directly to Koh Chang, it is 600 (includes the ferry ticket) baht per person and takes about 5 hours with a stop for snacks/potty break halfway. I highly recommend this service (Suvarnabhumi Burapha is the service provider)

Koh Chang

After riding the ferry we began to feel like we were finally arriving in Thailand, as silly as that sounds but we had been just traveling for almost 2 days. The final road to our bungalow at Lonely Beach was a crazy rollercoaster of a road, the people there drive fast and as far as I could tell there was not many traffic regulations, it was amazing and we got used to it quickly.

We stayed at the Lonely Beach Resort, which is less of a resort than you are likely thinking (in terms of western expectations) however the bungalows were excellent,  there was a fantastic swimming pool and the bar/restaurant in front was very very good (still remains one of my favorite places to eat even after the trip), eat the spicy salads mmmm. We stayed here for 4 nights I would most definitely return. Lonely Beach was beautiful and an experience of its own, with the jet lag we would get up very early (before sunrise) and then walk around town once the sun came up. Every morning the town was dead quiet, the people got up later and the town became active closer to 9 am, we learned (from the evidence on the ground in the form of  litter and experience) that every night was a rager of a party catering to the european travelers which lasted into the morning of the next day. This is all well and good but my friends if you need coffee (as I do) you cannot get it before 8AM (our hotel didn’t have a self-serve station as many do). Once 8 am hits there is a fantastic couple of places to get coffee including the Sleepy Owl, theres was likely the best of the whole trip.

Suggestions for Koh Chang:

  • use the taxis and go many places
  • go to Bang Boa and eat seafood at one of the “luxury” restaurants,
  • go snorkeling (wear sunscreen on your backsides my friends…)
  • eat somewhere new every day
  • try all the fruits available (Especially the fresh Guava)
  • wait to buy anything you don’t need until you leave the island and go elsewhere (very spendy).

The same service that takes you to the island can take you back, again a very good deal. From the Suvarnabhumi Airport we took the shuttle to Don Mueang airport and from there flew to Chiang Mai. Very easy and I suggest Airasia (no additional bag charges, some other companies do this too)

Chiang Mai

We arrived and easily procured a taxi to Thai Thai Hostel, a hostel suggested by friends. This hostel was very accommodating and excellent. The beds were very comfy, the people who were staying there were very interesting and many laughs were had on the roof over Chang beers and Marlboros. The first night we went on a walk to the center of old town to a bar called Zoe in Yellow, this place is pretty quiet until about 10, when it becomes a raging electronic party strobe lights and all, their mojitos are fantastic and you can get a whole bucket if you want one.  The hostel also booked us a full day cooking class at “Mama Noi’s Cooking school”, it was a deal for the fee! Very cool garden, people and yum!

Later we stayed at Gongkaew Guest house, this was an amazing find, if felt as though we were in the middle of the jungle but we were right inside the old town next to a couple of wats (monks chanting are an amazing way to wake up in the morning). This place I would recommend with two thumbs way up. At first we stayed in dorms and we were the only ones in the rooms, the bathrooms were outside under cover which was alright with me but if you don’t like the flying insects (biting or otherwise) then a private room with in room bathroom is for you. The last night of our trip we opted for the private room just incase some other travelers joined up in the bunks, we wanted to makes sure to get a good night sleep.

Suggestions for Chiang Mai: I wish I had more, next time…

  • Visit as many wats as you can
  • Eat street food (especially at the Chang Puak food night market)
  • Go to the Night market west of old town and the sunday walking market (my personal favorite of the markets)
  • Get a massage at Lila Massage, great price and experience
  • Try the unripe mango with dried chilli powder and salt! Mmm
  • Talk to everyone you can, the travelers in this area are great
  • Go to Zoe in yellow if you’re craving company, you will meet some excellent people (and possibly share buckets of mojitos, dance into the wee hours, consider dumping your life and joining a wise and beautiful french man on a multi month/country trip to find yourself but then wake up with a big headache the next morning full of regret you didn’t choose to)
  • Take taxis everywhere again, haggle!

From Chiang Mai we took a flight to Bangkok and then some hours later we departed Thailand on March 28th. The end before it felt like the beginning. 

My First Love; The Desert, and Our Reunion

Every year I do a trip to the southwest to visit the part of my soul that resides there. I was trying to describe this to someone the other day and the best I can do is this. There are places that feed the fire of your heart/soul, stoking it up so it expands and fills your chest, there are different places that do this for everyone. Other things can do this too, like creative works and what not, but for me it’s a few places located in various places such as: Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Montana. Of course there are other places out there also, things that I haven’t seen yet or maybe that I cannot draw from at this moment. This year I took along a friend of mine that I have had from high school, she’s amazing and it was totally worth showing her the places I had only talked about with people. In actuality she was the only one of my friends from Washington state (and childhood) that I have been able to share the places we saw together.

Exploring resets me, like a circadian rhythm, I come back to my reality a little sad to have to leave but more set on my goals and more clear of what I want from my life. Below is the image reel and mini description of what we saw and experiences.

Day 1: Leaving Seattle, WA (after fighting the TERRIBLE drivers that live in this city and visiting whole foods where we harassed the cashiers)IMG_2922

 

 

 

Image 1- After long driving through the night, with a small break at a rest stop the sun began to rise in Idaho.  This whole day was a rush which ended at Page, AZ.

Day 3-6 was spent visiting my family in AZ and also Flagstaff, Prescott and also Sycamore Canyon.

Day 6-8 were spent on the Colorado River below the Glen canyon dam, camping out under the stars, attempting to fish and drinking lots of good beers. This was the highlight of the trip for me, a great shooting star across the year. A happy hello and a sad goodbye.

IMG_3072IMG_3084DSCF1654fIMG_3076

Day 8-9 was spend getting back from the trip, heading to williams and also hanging out with my sister for one last day.

Day 10- Getting to Moab, UT. There was rain, sun and snow along the way.

 

Day 11- Driving, lots of driving. Slept at rest stop next to “lucky lils” Casino, We did not test how lucky she really was…. Also went to Thompson Falls to visit my boss for my summer internship and check out the town. Very pretty town.

Day 12- Camping out near Alberton, Montana. This is a favorite place of mine, good fishing (specific location denied….) This was also the last day of the trip. Sitting by the crackling fire, we drank ginger beers and I played songs for Rachel on my Harmonica (not well I may add). After this we woke up and headed home back to reality.

When this trip ended it left me feeling hopeful followed by an overwhelming sense of lose, and I had no idea what to do next. It’s a new beginning, a chance at rebirth and by grace I have been given it, its difficult to let go of the things that bind us to the past but we must to make room for future.

 

Another Turn Around the Sun

30de398ee2f123cba7afcb8d339d56adAs the year ends and a new one begins, take the time to use the change for renewal and reflection. Also, take a moment to breath and look inside, take any residual pieces of yourself that are hindering you and let them go. A new year is not a time to make plans and goals you’ll never keep, don’t set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Let’s instead choose to make maybe a handful of small changes, letting go perhaps of something that you have held onto a little too tightly for the last year. Let me walk you through what I see in my mind for all of us on this wonderful day.

Standing up from our comfortable huddled positions, we stand the dust of the previous year falling around us. Pabst in hand we peer around looking for the crystal chandelier, instead we see nothing just dark expanse. Out of the dark comes a small flicker of an image, but the light flickering is a flame inside of your belly. Fear sets in, what is that?! We exclaim. The flickering light is warm and slowly it grows and suddenly you feel safe and you feel almost as if the flame is consuming something you didn’t know was there some emotional baggage shoved under the bed after the long trip. At first at the thought of letting go of that emotional baggage, we cringe, what would we do without that? At this point that baggage has become a part of your formed personality, to lose it would be to have to reform yourself again. This could come in the form of baggage so to speak or it could just be residual hate/love/awkward feelings that you have harbored, long unable to release for unspeakable reasons. In this moment you can choose to let that flame expand and take the things that you no longer require, that do not benefit you and your experience, if you would only let them go. In this moment, we let them be taken, and the flame grows except its not a flame at all it’s a warm soothing light that at the release of your baggage glows more brightly for just a moment then dims until it goes out completely. At the lose of the light you again stand in a dark room, but then only just then do you realize that there was a door in reach this whole time, so you open it now and walk out of this dark room you had put yourself in and walk out into the bright new undiscovered territory. Its beautiful and new on the other side and you would have known earlier if only you could have had the power to get yourself out of a situation you knew to be dark and diminishing to your inner self.

Essentially what I want you to gather from me today is hopefully some courage today or in the future to take the dusty things we keep in the shelves of our minds and hearts that clutter and confuse, and let them go. Dust them off look at them and gently release them, shed tears if you need to and if it takes more than one attempt that is okay just do it eventually.

This year, I will attempt this myself, to let go of that thing I have dragged with me most of my adult live, that person that I have held onto who I really formed most of my being around. Who will I be without that? That terrifies me. We cannot hold onto that which hold us back from our paths, happiness or progress, well at least I cannot anyway, I can’t speak for you and should not even try.

So in this new year please get out there, explore and grow in whatever way you need to. So much love and light is being sent to you, whoever you are way out in the nothingness of space.

-Leah

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

 

The Things We Don’t Speak Of

Man posts newspaper ad seeking leads in killing of wife, daughter over 9 years ago

Just as life was definite, so is death. This has been on my mind for the last year or so, the impending darkness that beckons us from our first breath. It terrifies me some nights, that my thoughts and I one day would fade from this world. It’s something I cannot fathom and I cannot fathom it for my loved ones either. I think that death and the fragility of our lives should be talked about open, not kept in a scary closet where we store the things that we’ll never speak of.

Often when I go out into the wilderness by myself , at times I feel apprehensive as most people would. What exactly do I feel apprehensive about? Strangers, unreasonable predator fear and just the unknowing of what is out there. I remember my first trip out on a long hike by myself in the cascades I got to the trail-head put my heavy backpack on immediately wanted to go home, I didn’t, but every noise for the first miles scared the life out of me. I ran across this story about the daughter and mother shot in the head for no reason and something hit me, that trail the first one that scared me was this very trail that they lost their lives on, Pinnacle Lake Trail. I remember reaching the top of this long climb and there was this beautiful vista, sitting at the edge of the trees looking out on the view were two crosses and I had always wondered who they were and what happened, now I know.

The back of my brain says that I should never go back out there to that area, to that mountain, but the other larger more dominant says this: We cannot let fear ruin life for us. We cannot hide under our beds hoping that death doesn’t find us or that evil people simply pass by us. Life is hard, and hopefully long, but for most that is not true. It is a blessing to live long enough to truly know what it means to live.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
―Mark Twain 

You will die. Maybe peacefully, maybe in an hospital or maybe from a senseless act of violence, but it doesn’t change the outcome, fear won’t either. This I will say, knowing that one day your light will go out, knowing that maybe you won’t make it to see all of your goals meet fruition , what are you going to do with that? Why do we wait to tell people we care, or go to a place we have always wanted to go to or even to just take a day off of work. We have learned that we must put our head down and follow the paths of all those before us- Work, home, work , home……. until we get embalmed (so we cannot decay even once in the earth that bore us) and occupy a coffin (our family likely couldn’t even afford) unaged for all of time. Do what makes you happy, I am not talking about “living each day as if it were you last” because if that was true we wouldn’t need to pay our bills or worry about the consequences of dropping acid. What I am talking about is remembering that your happiness is that matters and you are in charge of it, every minute of every day regardless what you actually think. Make sure you are following where your soul beckons, I think you will find that it takes you strange and magical places.

Also, don’t let “evil” people scare you away from the things you love (I am also telling this to myself) because then fear has won, they have won.

HIKE NAKED. 

Get up out of your snuggie and get outside!

Much Love, Leah

“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.”
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Baby, its cold outside.

During these last weeks the weather up here in the greater puget sound area has been sunny and tits cold (if you don’t know that already) and I have felt that I have been a very poor outdoorswoman for not braving the elements and getting outside, but today I won…

As I was driving home from this hectic but fantastic weekend, I was driving over a small creek on the freeway and for just a second I could see a patch of heaven. By patch of heaven I mean it was a perfect fly fishing location, a beautiful bend of the stream with large woody debris on the bank and a pristine little gravel bar calling my name. When I got off the freeway at the next exit, I went in the general direction to find this little creek (pronounced “Crick” by the way, a creek is what you have in your back a crick is where you fish) . After bumbling around many neighborhoods, dead ends and stern/worried looking homeowners I found an access point to the creek, not exactly the spot of lore but a general good start. Later I found out that this creek is called Pilchuck creek and turns out its pretty famous for trout fishing. I didn’t get too much time to get into a good spot or get any fish on however it was a great day to get my feet wet and explore a new spot that is actually relatively close to home! The take-away from all that is that yes its cold outside, but it’s never too cold to explore. Also many adventures lie just outside of our grasp if one could just reach a little further you never know what you’ll get your hands on. So get up, put on a jacket and some thermals and get outside.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau